Conversational Japanese, Plus Frogs


Ianto pressed his fingers against the space of wall that had been a door that morning. Nothing shifted under his touch, just like all the other times he'd tried. He turned and looked at Toshiko. "Still nothing."

She nodded, not looking surprised. He wasn't really, either, but he felt obligated to try. One of these times the doorway might not fully disappear and he'd hate for them to lose their chance to escape simply because he'd grown lax.

He walked the four and a half steps away from the wall-cum-door to where Tosh was seated. He sank down to the floor opposite her, stretching out his legs as he leant back against the wall. His feet almost touched the other wall, but not quite.

The room was long and narrow, long enough for a person to get a good pacing up and down in. The brick walls were high, possibly two and a half storeys. There were thin strips of what might have been windows or lights in the crook between the walls and ceiling, spaced out so that the entire cell was well-lit. They went dark in the evening, plunging the room into pitch-blackness, making Tosh argue for their being lights.

But when they were on, Ianto swore he could see shadows, as if someone or something were walking past the outside. And the light wasn't florescent, but a warm yellow like sunlight. He surmised the windows were covered up, all at once. Neither of them had a clue which they were, but they'd already determined that Tosh standing on Ianto's shoulders was still too short to reach them.

No chance of escape that way. No chance of escape through the door that appeared only long enough to reveal two trays of food, once in the morning and once partway through the day. The door appeared and slid open, revealing a small nook. It stayed open long enough for Ianto to gather the trays and step back; then it would vanish and left no trace of itself until the next mealtime.

They'd tried to block the door, tried to investigate the small nook, tried to cram themselves both inside it to see what other door would appear. But the room was empty, walls built of large featureless slabs of brickface. Whoever was opening the door had waited patiently until they'd finally ceased their efforts and gone back into their cell. They'd not been punished for the attempts; food still arrived and the empty dishes disintegrated into dust after a day. They'd found a use for the dust, even, brushing it into the far corner, right next to the trapdoor which covered the privy hole. Brushed it right in and it seemed to absorb the smell quite nicely.

Ianto had to rather admire their captors' efficiency, had it not been him and Tosh who were their prisoners. He looked at her again, trying not to think of her long weeks spent at UNIT's merciless hands. To distract himself, or her, he looked at the wall beside the vanishing doorway.

"You're sure it's a twenty-four hour day?"

She looked at him, startled out of whatever her thoughts had been, and followed his glance to the hash marks they'd been scratching out. One for each day, measured by sets of two meals and their own circadian rhythm. It didn't feel like a twenty-four hour day, but he had to admit it was difficult to be certain of anything, trapped in here.

"I'm fairly sure," Toshiko said, and he bowed to her greater experience. Although she'd said UNIT had fed her three times daily, and let her out for brief exercise periods which helped her mark the time into days.

"So. Three weeks, on the dot. I wonder where Jack and the others are?" The question slipped out without his meaning it to. They'd been so certain of rescue those first few days. They'd industriously tried everything they could to escape, bolstered themselves up with talk of what the team was doing to find them or negotiate their release. After two weeks they'd stopped talking about it, though Ianto knew neither of them had given up the expectation of rescue.

He was just hoping, now, that someone thought to bring a clean change of clothing and a bar of soap when they did so.

"Three weeks, that means it's.. Thursday, right?" Tosh asked. Ianto nodded, slightly confused. She smiled. "Well then, they're hunting weevils and complaining about the curry. You know we only get the good food when I'm the one who picks it up."

"Because the chef likes you," Ianto said. "You really should let him ask you out."

"Ianto!" Tosh laughed, and smiled, shyly.

"No, really, you should. Stay for a bit next time you go to pick up our order. Flirt with him. Give him a chance to ask you out. He's quite nice; we already checked his background. Perfectly normal bloke."

"You checked him out?"

"Well, Gwen and I did -- totally independent of each other, as it happened. Jack -- I think Jack just went around and talked to him in person. Not really sure, but Jack gave his OK so he must have passed inspection."

"I don't know what to say. I'm not even interested in dating anyone." She paused, though, and Ianto already knew the truth.

"When we get out of here, we'll order curry," he said. Toshiko blushed, but she didn't argue with him.

That settled, all they had to do was...get out of there.

~~~

It had started out as a perfectly normal day in Cardiff. They'd all been up late the night before, chasing out the very last of the alien bats that had taken up residence in a local church. Mostly harmless, but large as sheep with frightening-looking fangs to match. Jack insisted the bats were vegetarian, and the fangs were to break through nutshells.

The priest had been sitting outside, chanting exorcisms in Latin while they'd herded the beasts into large nets. Finally, with only a smattering of cuts and bruises and one ruined pair of sneakers for Owen -- alien bat guano had been more than slightly acidic -- and they'd hauled the lot back to the Hub. Jack had wanted to look into releasing them into the wild by shoving them through the Rift so Tosh had gone to check the Rift spike predictor. Ianto, Gwen and Jack had dragged the bats downstairs while Owen had gone looking for a pair of shoes.

A fairly easy night, all things considered, and one which ended with Ianto down in Jack's bed, falling asleep exhausted, naked, and sticking to Jack in all manner of interesting places.

The next morning a small spike in the Rift was due, so they'd loaded up the alien bats, now sedated, and taken them off to be rid of the things.

Right after they'd shoved the last one through, the Rift had closed, and Jack had clapped his hands together, mouth opening to say something celebratory, going by the look that had been on his face. Ianto had been standing right beside Toshiko, and both of them had been closest to the spot the Rift had opened. That was their best guess for why them.

There had been a sharp light flashing at the very edge of Ianto's vision, followed by what had sounded exactly like a clap of thunder.

He had woken up in this cell, Toshiko passed out beside him. Since then they'd gotten no closer to figuring out who had kidnapped them, or why, or what anyone was doing about rescuing them.

He was growing more grateful that he'd had a chance to take a shower before being kidnapped by aliens. Or whatever had snatched them. He was dirty and sweaty and smelled of unwashed human by now, certainly, but he was sure it would have been even worse to be stuck here with Jack's come still all over his thighs.

Normally the Rift didn't do them such small favors.

~~~

"Here's another," Toshiko said, dropping the small piece of brick onto the floor.

"Perfect." Ianto studied it, then decided only one corner needed to be ground down. He began doing so, rubbing it against the floor. The stone floor was not a stone he recognised, but it was harder than the pieces of brick they'd managed to break off the walls.

There weren't many spots where the brick was crumbling, so the progress was slow going. But they were very close to having enough.

Ianto probably didn't need to grind the corners down, but really, there was no rush and he felt a sense of satisfaction at turning the broken bits of brick into something that looked, well, handmade instead of accidental. He concentrated on turning the brick into something rounded and nearly uniform; when he was satisfied he placed the stone carefully in the pile of others.

"That's 356," he said. "We need five more."

"I've got three," Toshiko said. "I lucked out; a large piece broke off and I was able to break it into smaller bits."

"That's wonderful!" Ianto carefully took the pieces, cradling them in his hand. He gave Toshiko a grin, and was pleased to see it returned with a genuine smile. It had been hard, at first, keeping her morale from flagging. Week four had come and gone with no rescue, and no change whatsoever in their circumstance. He had seen the darkening shadows in her eyes and knew she was thinking about her previous imprisonment. She'd had no hope, then, of rescue. The fact Jack had done so had been a shock to her and for awhile that had kept her more adamant than Ianto about their eventual rescue.

He'd seen the moment she'd first given up. Defeat came and went, depending on her mood, but that first time she'd looked at him with those dead eyes, he'd known she'd given up. She'd had that same look this morning, and he'd determined to do something about it.

It took him the better part of a day, but he'd finally hit upon something they could do. They'd started chipping away at the bricks, prying out pieces and grinding them down into small, round stones. Brown side up or black side up, and soon they'd have enough to play a game of igo.

Toshiko knelt down and brushed her hand across the floor where they'd determined the best spot to put the board. Far away from the hole that serve as their toilet -- weeks had gone by and with unspoken agreement they'd maintained the facade of privacy. The board was also away from the door, just in case someone decided their actions were hostile, or worse, unnecessary and their stones were taken away with the next arrival of food trays.

They'd placed it near the center of the room, opposite the spot they'd taken to sleeping in. The living area, Ianto dubbed it in his head. He glanced over as Toshiko began scratching the lines of the board again, digging them just a bit deeper to make them just a bit more visible. Or, he supposed, it was something for her to do. Decorate the board instead of staring at the walls and going mad.

He approved, and smoothed the stone in his hand just a little more, before adding it to the pile.

Six weeks, and no word from anyone except each other. No clue as to who or what their captors were. No idea what they wanted.

No idea when Jack would come storming in, coat billowing behind him, a witticism on his lips to break the tension.

Ianto missed him.

~~~

Ianto waited, tensely. Toshiko looked at him flatly, for just one moment, then broke into a grin. "Yoku wakarimasu," she said.

Ianto had to run the words through his head to be sure, then he nodded. "You understand me perfectly."

"Ianto," she scolded.

"Gomennasai," he said quickly, saying 'sorry' for breaking into English on a day designated for Japanese only. The apology had been one of the first phrases he'd mastered -- barring the formal greetings he'd learned when he'd been preparing for Dr. Tanizaki's visit.

He'd expected it to bother him, when Toshiko had first suggested it. Igo was distracting, but doing nothing but play wasn't enough. One day Toshiko had said something quietly in Japanese, and Ianto had responded in Welsh. She'd laughed, then looked at him with a serious expression. Then she'd suggested the language lessons -- him for Japanese and her for Welsh.

He hadn't wanted to at first -- too many memories of Lisa. But when he'd said no, Toshiko had sat quietly for the entire rest of the day. He'd felt guilty on top of everything he still felt when he thought about Lisa, and the next morning he'd woken up and greeted her in Welsh.

By now they'd finally taught each other enough simple phrases and vocabulary that they'd made rules -- on the first day they spoke nothing but Japanese. The second day, nothing but Welsh. The third day was left for English. On Japanese days Ianto was allowed to ask for words he didn't know or remember, but only if he first asked in Welsh. Toshiko, similarly, was allowed to ask for words she didn't know the Welsh of, but only if she first asked in Japanese.

It was slow going, and Ianto wasn't sure how much Japanese he was really learning, as it was hard to converse without any reference. He was sure he would forever remember the Japanese phrases for 'food's arrived' and 'would you like to play another game of igo.' But memory for phrases like going to the cinema, or asking for directions in downtown Cardiff, continued to elude him.

They eventually discovered it was much easier to talk about work, no matter which language they used. Past cases, items they'd recovered and never identified, items they'd recovered and discovered were rubbish or child's toys -- they talked a lot about work, and if they sometimes avoided talking about the people they worked with, Ianto never felt compelled to call them on it.

Four months went past, and Ianto had won exactly half of their games of igo, and Toshiko continued to speak Welsh with a ghastly English accent. He teased her about it every three days, until she'd finally admitted that his own Welsh-accented Japanese was adorable, which was why she'd never encouraged him to change it.

Ianto hadn't thought he could still blush in front of Toshiko, but apparently he could.

~~~

"Six months, fourteen days," Ianto said, counting the hash marks twice to be sure.

"You would think they'd have rescued us by now," Tosh said, conversationally. Ianto still had to roll her words through his brain a couple of times, separating out the Japanese sounds into words he knew. He was fairly good at filling in the meaning of words he didn't know, and Toshiko rarely corrected him anymore.

"Perhaps they've been killed in horribly nasty ways," Ianto offered. He grinned when Toshiko rolled her eyes.

"You're getting very fond of morbid humour, Ianto."

"I've decided that's my coping mechanism this month. Morbid humour. Next month I think I'll go with singing every song I can remember in order to the time."

Toshiko looked at him with barely disguised horror. "You can't sing."

"I know lots of songs," Ianto said. "I'm sure I can carry on for an entire month."

"No, I mean - I've heard you sing. You can't. You sound like a Welsh frog that's being squashed by a large boot."

Ianto blinked. "That's quite the image."

"If you sing I'll be forced to kill you," Toshiko continued, calmly. "And then I'll have no one to talk to or play igo with and when they rescue me I'll be insane and it will all be your fault."

Ianto had to parse three times, asking for clarification for 'no one to talk to' and 'your fault' before he could reply. "So, no singing, then?"

"No singing."

"I would redecorate the place, but they haven't given me the paint I've been asking for."

Toshiko frowned. "You asked for green paint. I don't want green walls."

"Green floor?"

"No. I want blue."

"Blue walls?" Ianto looked around, considering. "It would clash with the ceiling, and we can't paint up high enough to paint it as well. It would be rather disconcerting, like the walls were the sky and the ceiling was the ground."

"Blue," she repeated, in a determined voice.

Ianto sighed. "Fine." He walked over to the doorway that wasn't present at the moment, and knocked. "Hey!" he shouted in English, just in case. "We've changed our order! Blue paint, and tan carpeting!"

"Tan?"

"The same colour as the dust," Ianto explained. "Won't need cleaning, and will go nicely with blue walls."

Toshiko looked around at the walls, then the floor, then she nodded. "That will be lovely," she finally decided.

"Leave it to me," Ianto said. "I really do know this stuff."

She grinned. "Not at all worried about being stereotypically gay, then?"

"I don't think being shagged by Jack makes a person stereotypically gay," Ianto answered after a moment. "Stereotypically living, breathing, and capable of forming the word 'yes,' perhaps."

Toshiko laughed, and Ianto smiled at her, even though he felt that pang in his chest. Jack and the others hadn't arrived. Six months and fourteen days, and nothing. He still dreamt of Jack when he slept, remembered the times they'd lain quietly together, not speaking, just touching. Or times they'd had sex so violently Ianto was surprised they didn't break the furniture.

He dreamt about their fights, their misunderstandings, dreamt of Jack holding a gun to his head and demanding he kill Lisa. He dreamt of Jack being the one on the other side of the door, trapping them together for purposes unknowable.

Those were the bad nights, when he dreamt of things that weren't memories, when he woke up spooned tight around Toshiko still whimpering and crying out. Sometimes she'd be awake, brushing his hair and whispering things he wanted to believe. Sometimes she'd get caught in her own nightmares and Ianto would be the one to whisper, hold her tightly and pretend that tomorrow they would wake up and it would all be over.

"Ianto." Toshiko's soft voice startled him out of his reverie. He opened to mouth to apologise, but she beat him to it. "I'm sorry. I know you miss him."

He nodded. They'd had this conversation, once. Only once -- Toshiko stammering that it didn't seem as hard for her, with no one she'd left behind in quite the same way. Ianto stopped teasing her about the man at the curry restaurant, and for several weeks she'd avoided saying Jack's name at all.

They'd even spent five days completely avoiding one another, staying on opposite ends of the room and pretending they didn't see or hear one another. Eventually they'd ended up at the igo board, placing their stones one by one, still not talking, but only because they hadn't needed to anymore.

"I sometimes worry I'm going to forget his face," Ianto said. "What he looks like. Or how he smells. I can still hear his laugh," Ianto said, closing his eyes. "He has such a good laugh."

He felt Tosh's hand close over his, and he rubbed his fingers against her palm. "Imagine how he'll look, crashing down the door, all triumphant at getting to be the hero," she whispered. She leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder.

"If you want to kiss him to say thank you, I won't mind," Ianto said, smiling. "I know for a fact Jack won't mind."

"Here I thought you were going to say I could shag him," Tosh said, laughing a bit. Ianto looked at him and saw that shadow of forced cheer behind her eyes.

"I didn't think you'd ever wanted to."

"Are you kidding? Everyone who's ever met him has wanted to shag him, I think." She titled her head. "But no, I never really...saw him that way. Like a potential boyfriend."

"And you tend to see people that way. Boyfriends, girlfriends, but not.. casual sex. No one night stands for you, because you have to lose your heart before you go to bed with someone." Ianto squeezed her hand, briefly, letting her know he thought there was nothing wrong with being that way.

"I suppose." Toshiko gave him a look, and started to say something, then stopped.

"What?"

"Is that why..."

"Why..?" he encouraged.

"Well, six months. And you've never-- We've never even talked about it."

"About having sex?" Ianto paused, as Toshiko nodded. "I have thought about it," he finally admitted.

"But you never actually...wanted to."

Ianto looked at her, and didn't even have to fight to find the right words. "It feels like giving up," he said. "Having sex with you would mean I'd decided Jack was never going to rescue us."

Tosh smiled, then it blossomed into a grin. "It's just as well, you know."

"What?"

"Well, you know our luck. We'd be naked, and just about to-- you know."

She stopped, and Ianto laughed as he realised what she was getting at. "We'd be at the absolute most embarrassing position, and they'd rescue us. Right then." He laughed again and Toshiko joined him; at the same moment they both stopped, and looked at one another.

Ianto watched Toshiko open her mouth, and wondered if she would actually say it.

"We can't," he managed, fighting back a giggle.

"Can you imagine if it worked? We'd be so angry we hadn't tried it five months ago!" With that, Toshiko collapsed into laughter, and a second later Ianto found himself laughing just as hard. Hands still wrapped together, they leant against each other, laughing hysterically.

Each time one of them would begin to calm down, the other would toy with a button, or threaten to take off a shirt, and off they would go again.

Ianto wondered, faintly, if they'd finally gone mad, and if it would make their imprisonment seem easier.

Toshiko gave him an over-dramatic leer, and set them both off into peels of laughter once more.

~~~

"This is...unexpected."

Ianto glanced over from where he was sitting at the igo board. It was Toshiko's turn and he'd been studying for his next two or three moves. He was fairly certain he knew where she would play, but if she played someplace else there he needed contingency plans.

Jack was standing in the doorway, looking at them. He seemed confused, and just a bit disappointed.

"I'm winning," Ianto explained. "We can't get rescued now. That isn't fair."

Tosh reached over and patted him on the arm. "You won a game last week."

"And lost five," Ianto reminded her, unnecessarily. After all, she'd been the one he'd lost to.

"Did you want us to come back later?" Jack asked, and behind him Ianto saw Gwen, and beyond her someone he couldn't make out, but was most likely Owen.

Ianto stood up, frowning, being careful not to kick any of the stones by accident. "Jack?"

"In the flesh." Jack held out his arms, with that confused and worried look still on his face despite the wide smile.

"Tosh, I think we're being rescued."

"Unless you want to stay--" was as far as Jack got before Ianto was across the cell (one and a half Toshiko-lengths, they'd measured. They'd done the whole cell in Toshiko lengths, Ianto lengths, and ToshikoIanto lengths. That day had been a bad one, desperate for anything to break up the boredom.)

Ianto grabbed him, slamming their bodies together and burying his face in the rough wool of Jack's coat.

It smelled like Jack. Memories that hadn't grown dim after all let him know this was exactly the same coat he'd held close, two days before they'd been kidnapped. He felt Jack's arms come around him, heard Toshiko moving forward as well, heard her falling to Gwen's embrace and exclaiming how it couldn't possibly be true.

Ianto finally lifted his head and looked at Jack. Jack gave him a sad, understanding smile.

"What took so long?" Ianto asked, hearing his voice break. He cleared his throat and asked again, in English. Jack's luck they'd rescued them on Welsh-only day.

Jack didn't seem fazed. He said, "This entire building was in a temporal pocket. Outside it's only been three days since the Wagornians snatched you two. Holding you for ransom," he began, but Ianto found he didn't care.

"Three days?" He turned to look at the wall, though he'd counted them up only yesterday.

He could feel Jack moving, whispering to himself -- counting, Ianto realised. He beat Jack to the end, saying, "Eleven months and five days. Give or take a handful of hours. Are we on Earth?"

"Not-- sort of. Temporal pocket, slight spatial displacement," Jack explained.

"Close enough to twenty four hours a day," Ianto said. "We'd wondered."

Toshiko was still hanging onto Gwen; they'd moved aside for Owen to come forward to squeeze her arm. He was looking at them both with a professional demeanor; Ianto realised he was checking for injuries or signs of wear and tear.

"We're not hurt," Ianto said. "Though I'd kill for a shower."

"I didn't want to be the one to say it," Jack teased, gently. But he didn't loosen his grip on Ianto, and Ianto didn't make any attempt to wrestle himself free. Three days was hardly enough to get too frantic, from a Torchwood perspective. Where weird things happened more often than anything remotely resembling normal -- a disappearance of three days couldn't make Jack cling to him so tightly Ianto thought he would be leaving bruises worthy of Owen's medical attentions. Ianto, of course, had every reason to hold on tight. Perhaps it was just that Jack understood, used to the absurdities of time.

Ianto let his head drop back onto Jack's shoulder. "Can we go home?"

"Of course." Jack gave the team brief directions -- back to the SUV, back to the Hub, don't stop to shoot anyone unless you simply feel like it. Ianto spared a look at Toshiko to make sure she was all right. Gwen and Owen still had their hands on her arms, and Toshiko looked like she wasn't about to go anywhere without them.

Ianto didn't try to move away from Jack's side, even though it made walking a bit awkward. Jack didn't make any effort to pry him loose, even when they had to walk up the stairway practically sideways.

"You weren't going to win," Toshiko said, as they emerged from the building. Jack led them across an empty parking lot towards the SUV. It looked like an abandoned warehouse district, though the buildings all seemed slightly...unnatural. Or perhaps it was just the sunlight, and fresh, cold air that was making Ianto's eyes water.

Ianto scowled at Toshiko. "I might've."

Toshiko smiled, a smug look he'd grown far to familiar with. Ianto scowled harder. "You know, you could go back to letting me win, once in a while. For my pride."

"That was only until you learned the rules," she said, and she settled into the back of the SUV. Ianto looked at Jack, wanting to demand that Jack make her let him win, but then all he really wanted to do was kiss Jack. So he did.

When he broke free, he was pressing them both against the side seat of the SUV, Jack nearly lying back and Ianto on top of him. No one said anything, and Jack didn't try to make him move.

"You're real," Ianto said, but that hadn't been what he meant. Before Jack could say anything, Ianto continued, "I remember what you taste like."

The sad look in Jack's eyes faded, and was replaced with a warmth Ianto had seen more and more often -- since Jack's return, before his own disappearance. "You're welcome to make sure, any time you want."

Ianto grinned. He wanted to say something, flirt back, tease Jack with polite-sounding bit of innuendo. The words didn't come right away, and he realised he was badly out of practise. Instead he leaned forward again, and pressed his lips to Jack's.

It almost felt like he hadn't been gone at all.

~~~

Jack had offered them a holiday to rest and recover, but both Ianto and Toshiko had refused. A bit twitchy, Ianto had thought, remembering how desperately neither of them had wanted to be alone. Jack had agreed, though he'd taken them off active field duty for two weeks. It had suited them both, re-acclimating themselves to the Hub and their work and their friends in what was almost something like a safe environment.

Familiar environment, at least, and the Rift had actually accommodated them by doing nothing extremely disturbing for the duration. Ianto settled back into his routines, balancing the facade of the tourist office with the little details of Torchwood that hadn't, strangely, gone too far undone in the time he'd been gone.

Three days, he reminded himself when yet again he was startled to find very little out of place. His files were all still neatly in order, and the contents of the fridge hadn't even had a chance to go bad.

He and Toshiko had ordered curry their first day back, then gone the rounds of chinese and sandwiches with chips, and even a lunch of donuts and ice cream. Everything except pizza, which was almost exactly what their captors had fed them each and every meal. More nutritious, they'd speculated, when Owen had deemed them both in decent shape. No signs of malnutrition and only a bit of muscle tone lost from lack of exercise. The rest of the team stopped ordering pizza on their behalf, though Toshiko and Ianto both insisted it was fine as long as no one made them eat any. When Toshiko flinched away from a pizza box, that had clinched it and there'd been no more pizza in the Hub.

Ianto had also fallen back into the routine of Jack -- some nights he couldn't get enough of his lover, stripping them both down as soon as the last of their co-workers left the Hub. Making love all night, falling into a deep, dreamless sleep in Jack's arms. He balanced those with the nights he simply wanted to be alone. Back at his flat, re-orienting himself into the life he'd left. Finding magazines he'd never read, flipping through stations on the telly to remind himself the whole world was still out there, somewhere.

All in all, Ianto thought he was doing fairly well.

He set a cup of tea on Toshiko's desk and told her it was there so she wouldn't knock it over, as her attention was wholly focused on one of her computer screens.

"Thanks, Ianto," she said, and Ianto nodded and started to move away. Jack was there, without warning, and looking at him like something was terribly wrong.

Ianto felt a cold shiver, and clutched the edge of the serving tray. "What is it?"

"Do you know you're still doing that?" Jack asked in that gentle tone that meant he was trying hard not to spook the person he was talking to.

That spooked Ianto, as well as confused him. "Bringing everyone their tea?"

"Speaking Japanese," Jack said, still maintaining that false calm.

Toshiko looked up, exchanging a confused look with Ianto. Ianto asked, "Is that a problem?" He tried to think of ways it could be -- did Jack worry they were plotting something behind his back? Foolish, he knew, since there were at least five different translating devices in the Hub within clear sight.

"Not a problem, no, unless you didn't know you were doing it. Because one day it's English, the next day it's Japanese, then the following day you both speak Welsh. Over and over."

"Actually Japanese is first," Ianto began, then came to a stop as Jack's expression turned decidedly worried. Ianto tried to smile. "Day one is Japanese, then day two is Welsh, day three, English." He shrugged. "It was a way to pass the time."

"So you said," Jack reminded him. They'd both been debriefed; Ianto guessed Toshiko had been as thoroughly debriefed as he had, though they hadn't talked about it in detail.

"Is it a problem?" Ianto asked again.

"I just.. you know you don't have to, right? You're... rescued," Jack said, sounding clumsy. It wasn't something Ianto associated with Jack -- clumsy and uncertain, but here he was being both.

"I never thought about it," Toshiko said. "Ianto spoke Japanese to me on our second day back, so I replied in kind. I suppose it just.. stuck."

"It isn't a problem," Jack said again. "As long as you decide to do it. If you're doing it just because it's a habit...." Jack looked from Ianto to Toshiko, then back. "I know it can be hard to break habits you build in that sort of confinement. Being held prisoner can do things to your mind. I just want to make sure you're OK."

Ianto narrowed his eyes, and thought about it. Gave it real, serious thought, because if he had gone mad, it was likely he wouldn't have noticed. "I can't say," he finally admitted.

For some reason, that made Jack smile. Like it had been the right answer. "Just think about it, is all I'm asking."

"Yes, Jack," Ianto said, and he heard Toshiko echo him. The gentle, creepily-false smile was gone, replaced by a more honest look of concern.

"Don't be shy about asking for help," Jack told them. They both nodded, and Jack, after one last, searching look at them, turned and walked back to his office.

They watched him go, and when Jack was almost out of earshot, Toshiko said in Japanese, "He really does have a nice arse."

Jack stopped and looked over his shoulder. Toshiko quickly turned back to her computers, and Ianto gave Jack a friendly wave. Then he scowled at Toshiko. "That's not going to convince them we're not crazy." He made sure to say it in English.

"I owe you, for making me go get the curry every day last week."

"Martin likes you. He's a nice guy, and you're very cute when you blush." Ianto laughed when she glared at him, then he walked away, back to the break room and the light duties of cleaning up after the others.

~~~

Three weeks after being rescued, Ianto was in Jack's office. Jack had just finished seducing Ianto into getting shagged on Jack's desk -- not normally something that required much effort on Jack's part, but today Ianto was desperately trying to keep his last pair of clean trousers clean, since he hadn't had time to do laundry. Jack was, as usual, hard to refuse and Ianto had finally -- after one or two minutes of protesting -- given in.

As he tidied himself before the others returned from lunch, Ianto told him, "You're buying me some clothes."

"I am? What's the occasion?"

"To keep here, in case of alien vomit, mud stains, and your spunk all over the inside of my jacket." Ianto didn't try to wipe the jacket clean; he just folded it to hide the stains until he could add it to the growing pile of work-related laundry. He hadn't had a chance to see to that, either, but so far it hadn't been urgent.

"I didn't hear you complaining when it happened."

"Because I had your fingers in my mouth. I could hardly speak a word -- well, I could have said 'buy me a frog' in Welsh, but you don't speak Welsh so it wouldn't have helped."

"Buy you a frog?"

"The sounds one makes while sucking on someone's fingers lend themselves to the phrase," Ianto explained, tucking his shirt in, giving it two little creases in the back to keep the front of the shirt tight and smooth. Jack frowned. "How do you know this?"

"Something Tosh and I discovered."

Jack blinked. "You and Tosh."

"Yes. When we were in the cell. We had rather a lot of time on our hands, and not a lot of ways of entertaining ourselves."

Slowly, Jack grinned. "Did you and Tosh have sex? I haven't wanted to ask, because I'm still not fully convinced you aren't going to turn out to be barking mad. But -- you did, didn't you? Come on, I want details!"

It was Ianto's turn to blink. He wasn't surprised that Jack wasn't upset, nor that he voyeuristically wanted to hear all about it. He opened his mouth to explain how it was they'd discovered the strange but true fact about Welsh, fingers, and frogs. Then he stopped.

Jack waited, then his smile faded slightly. "What's wrong?"

"I'm not sure I should say anything."

"Why? Ianto, I don't--"

Ianto smiled, then waited as Toshiko and Gwen came up the stairs to Jack's office. Jack looked over, and from the look on his face Ianto knew he'd guessed their arrival was why Ianto hadn't answered. Ianto waited until the two ladies came in, then he looked right at Tosh and said, "Jack wants to know if we had sex."

There was a pause, then they both broke out in laughter. Ianto felt the echoes of that day, hysterical giggles pushing the air out of his lungs until his stomach hurt. Tosh was gripping Gwen's shoulder, using it to hold herself up as she laughed.

Gwen and Jack exchanged a slow look, and Ianto tried to rein himself in. Toshiko's laughter sent him off again, but as she pulled herself together, Ianto found he was able to do so, as well. Fits of giggles kept breaking free from each of them, until finally they were able to look at Jack, grinning madly but able to speak.

All Ianto said was, "I'll have those reports for you by three o'clock so you can read them over before your phone call with the Commissioner."

Jack narrowed his eyes at Ianto, and Ianto smiled calmly and left the office. He heard Jack ask the same question of Tosh, and she laughed again and excused herself to return to work. Ianto glanced back at her as she headed for her work-station, and gave her a grin.

As he passed by the spare terminal, he opened a window to the internal server. He found their folder, and opened up the game. After studying it a moment, he placed a black stone. He heard the ding of Tosh's program, letting her know it was now her turn. Ianto closed the window and headed for the break room.

He still had the images in his mind, standing in the cell facing Toshiko. Neither of them had moved, hands resting on their own clothing. Neither of them ready to be the first.

"This is insane," Toshiko had said. Ianto had nodded.

"We've done worse," he'd begun, and flinched at the insult. But Toshiko had grinned.

"Close your eyes and think of Torchwood?"

"Close my eyes and think of the door opening -- I really don't care who rescues us, at this point."

"I agree." Toshiko had nodded, but her hands didn't move. They'd stood there for some minutes, neither of them speaking. Neither of them making a move to get undressed.

Finally Toshiko had sighed, one great rush of exhalation. "It's like having sex with my brother," she'd said.

"Thank you," he'd said, meaning it sincerely. He'd hesitated, then had dropped his hands from the buttons of his shirt. With an obvious look of relief, Toshiko had done the same.

"We'll wait another month," she'd said, firmly. "Then, if we haven't been rescued, we'll do it. We'll have sex. As naked and embarrassing as we can manage."

Ianto had smirked. "That's very romantic."

Toshiko had rolled her eyes. "It's not about romance. It's about making them rescue us!"

"By having sex." Ianto had tried to hold it in, but he couldn't. He'd laughed. Soon enough, Toshiko had been laughing with him.

When they'd calmed down, all Toshiko had said was, "Now what?"

"Want to play igo?" She'd nodded, and as they went to sit at the board, he had asked, "Same time next month?"

She'd grinned at him as she wiped the board free of dust. "Can you imagine? If that really was what did it?"

"Weirder things have happened," Ianto had told her. She had looked at him expectantly. He'd shrugged. "Nothing's coming to mind."

"Right. One month. If we haven't been rescued, we're having sex." She had glanced down at the igo board, determinedly.

Ianto had tried to hold in his laughter, and after a few moves of igo, finally managed.

Exactly twenty nine days later, the door opened and Jack walked into the cell.

the end